The Republic of Desire was founded in 1997, and have released three EPs and three full-length albums since. The group's earlier works were more clearly industrial-heavy, whereas this, their newest record, is more based on regular band instruments.

The dull-coloured cover image suitably features a war banner-like symbol, as the album is lyrically themed around the chaos and dominance of war as well as the struggles for power over others. The musical side delivers a chaotic and hostile take on extreme metal with some epic and atmospheric synth bits, along with some industrial metal clanging and other effects which are more than fitting to describe the fields of battle. The riffs are dark and heavy, but have well enough twists and slower parts to enhance the atmospheric bits and to keep the listener awake. The stuffy bass guitar fills the holes in the soundscape, along with the synths of course, and gives the songs a nice bit of extra kick. The main vocals are harsh and distorted mid-pitch shouts that don't really sound personal or have power, but they don't get to annoy the listener either.

For some reason the album carries a heavily stuffed and damp soundscape. Although a soundscape like this enchances the chaotic atmospheres and makes the music sound more massive, it eats away a huge amount of all the contrasts and dynamics the songs would otherwise contain; the sounds don't have any space to move. The mushy soundscape and the lack of dynamics make the songs a faceless mush, an effect which is amplified by the one-dimensional vocal delivery, and thus the album becomes one with very little elements that would stick to one's mind. The compositions have a good amount of variation and depth provided by the electronic section, but it's no use when the soundscape doesn't allow them to rise up from the mass. The fully instrumental electronic song "Razing the Tower" is the pretty much the sole one with actual memorability due to its clearer structure and well-built dynamics, which also makes it a nice breathing pause amidst all the pummeling and wrath. The other memorable bit I spotted was the chorus of "Virtue" which has vocals that employ tasty mechanical distortion.

Regarding facelessness, I heavily criticise the album's visual side. The backgrounds are a dull-coloured mess of mechanical parts and random shapes blurring them up, so the only thing one will remember is the sigil in the album's cover and the two propaganda poster-styled characters in the booklet - which is all too identical to what I said about the Kill the Romance-album that I reviewed a while back. Incidentally, they even share the label. The booklet features all the lyrics, but they're presented as a sole wall of text for maximum reading displeasure. It looks nice, but is irksome to read.

I can recommend this album to people who fancy war and chaos and who want to challenge their ears and their perceptions of aggressive music. It's clearly an album by a talented band, but somehow the pieces just don't come together. It's a decent soundtrack-type of an experience, but highly disappointing if viewed as a metal-album due to its specious monotony and all the instruments being so coiled up into one damp entirety. Pick your side.

6- / 10